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Hokies defense scores twice

11/3/2003

BLACKSBURG, Va. (AP) -- Virginia Tech (No. 11 ESPN/USA Today, No. 10 AP) blew the national
championship race wide open Saturday night -- and got back its pride
-- with the biggest victory in its history, 31-7 over No. 2 Miami.

The Hokies (7-1, 3-1 Big East) got two touchdowns from
their defense and another on a 10-yard drive set up by the defense
to end Miami's 39-game regular season winning streak, its 27-game
winning streak in the Big East and perhaps its hope for a third
straight championship appearance.

It was the first victory in Virginia Tech history in 34 games
against teams ranked No. 8 or higher, and came just 10 days after
one of the Hokies' most humbling losses in 111 seasons, 28-7 at
West Virginia.

"People were talking about how we were a fluke and all this
other stuff," said linebacker Michael Crawford, whose 44-yard
interception return set up a touchdown. "We demonstrated toughness
tonight."

The Hokies held Miami to 377 yards, many of them coming after
Virginia Tech had used its big-play defense to open a 31-0 lead.
The Hurricanes' only touchdown didn't come until just 7:53
remained.

Miami (7-1, 3-1) hadn't lost in league play since a 43-10
wipeout here on Nov. 13, 1999, and the Hokies came up with a
similar effort this time to get back into the race after they
seemed to have been ushered out.

"It feels real good. Real good," said DeAngelo Hall, who
started the rout with a 28-yard fumble return after stripping the
ball from Roscoe Parrish on a reverse early in the second quarter.

"It kind of hurt us a little bit seeing how with one loss we
dropped down like that" in the polls. It was just crazy. We wanted
to come out tonight and show people we were for real."

Virginia Tech did it the way it has so often under coach Frank
Beamer, getting stout defense -- and offense -- from its defense and
riding a thunderous wave of appreciation from 65,115 fans to
victory.

"When things have been so rough here for about 10 days, to get
one like this just seems all that much better," Beamer said.

It was his first victory in 20 games against a top-eight team,
the only top-10 victories in 23 since 1987 coming against a pair of
No. 9 teams.

The Hokies also did it with virtually no passing game, Beamer
choosing the safer means of keeping the ball on the ground both
before and after he pulled quarterback Bryan Randall and let Marcus
Vick take over.

Virginia Tech finished with 219 total yards, just 44 through the
air, and didn't complete a pass until Vick hit Doug Easlick on a
swing pass for a 2-yard loss with 2½ minutes left in the third
quarter.

About two minutes later, Vick made the only other completion a
big one, hitting Ernest Wilford for 46 yards and a TD that made it
31-0.

Vick was 2-for-2 and also ran six times for 23 yards in his most
extensive playing time this season. Randall, who ended the Hokies
first drive with an interception, was 0-for-4 and ran five times
for 15 yards.

Kevin Jones, who ran for 124 yards, scored the Hokies' other
offensive touchdown on a 2-yard run after Crawford's long
interception return. It was the second interception -- and last pass
-- thrown by Brock Berlin.

"I was actually trying to get it out of bounds," Berlin said.

Berlin, who led the Hurricanes back from 23 points down in a
38-33 victory against Florida, didn't have it this time as the
Hokies sacked him three times and had him running on both
interceptions.

"We knew if we got pressure on him we probably could make him
fold," said cornerback Eric Green, whose 51-yard interception
return for a touchdown sparked Virginia Tech's 21-point third
quarter.

"We knew that he wasn't really a good quarterback throwing on
the run. ... Our defensive line made it a lot easier for us," he
said.

Berlin finished 16-for-25 for 164 yards, but wasn't the only
Miami player who struggled. Kellen Winslow caught eight passes, but
for just 48 yards, and drew a 15-yard personal-foul call as the
game got away.

Green also blocked a 39-yard field goal try in the first
quarter, the Hokies' 101st kick block since Beamer arrived in 1987,
and the Hokies caught an early break when Kevin Everett failed to
catch a sure touchdown.

The play came on a fake field goal in the second quarter when
Matt Carter spotted Everett completely alone in the end zone and
threw a perfect pass to him, but the tight end let it slip through
his hands.

"We would like to think it would be a different football game"
if Everett had held on, coach Larry Coker said of the play, which
would have tied the game at 7. "It was a good call. It was just a
drop.

"Those are things in a game like this you can't have."

The loss was just Coker's second in 33 games as Miami's coach.
It was that kind of night for the Hokies, and for the
Hurricanes, both of whom now find themselves trailing Pittsburgh
(3-0) and tied with West Virginia in the race for the Big East
championship and BCS bid.

Virginia Tech and Miami also both still have games against the
No. 25 Panthers, who beat Boston College 24-13 on Saturday.
Virginia Tech travels to Pitt next Saturday, and the Hurricanes go
to Pitt on Nov. 29.